When it hits newsstands tomorrow, Men’s Health will rattle off a list of the country’s “Manliest Restaurants.” And while the register features some very formidable contenders for beefy and brawny bites — New York’s Keens Steakhouse, Los Angeles’ Salt’s Cure, and Austin, Texas’ Salt Lick BBQ among them — you might be surprised by what establishment tops the list. It’s a Pennsylvania landmark that serves up sandwiches that are plenty macho, but its still not exactly a place where you might find a menu filled with the stuff that makes up the Ron Swanson mosaic of testosterone- appropriate fare.
It’s Pittsburgh’s Primanti Bros., whose signature double-fisted sandwiches typically consist of grilled meats, cole slaw, tomatoes and french fries stuffed between slices of Italian bread. From nearly 50 nominees, Men’s Health picked Primanti Bros. because their sandwiches come with the “side dishes stuffed inside,” which makes it easier to “perform some sort of manual labor with your right hand and eat with your left.”
In conjunction with the “Manliest Restaurant in America” competition, Men’s Health is teaming up with the Travel Channel program “Food Paradise” for a special “Food Paradise: America’s Manliest Restuarants” that will air on November 30 at 10 p.m.
The “Manliest Restaurnats” regional finalists includes:
MID-ATLANTIC: Primanti Bros. (Pittsburgh, PA): Because sit-down restaurants are for sissies. At Primanti Bros., you order your sandwich with the side dishes stuffed inside it, so you can perform some sort of manual labor with your right hand and eat with your left. The result: a bicep-buster of a sandwich so good you’ll (try to) eat the whole thing.
LOS ANGELES: Salt’s Cure (Los Angeles, CA): A small restaurant with big flavor, largely derived from an abundance of house-cured meats and the best pretzel in all of Los Angeles.
GULF COAST: Alabama Jack’s (Key Largo, FL): Floating on a pair of barges just outside the Keys, Alabama Jack’s embodies the no-frills spirit of old Florida. You won’t even find A/C in this joint. Real men seek refreshment—and solace from the mosquitoes—at the bar where dinged-up license plates hang in tribute to out-of-staters who’ve dutifully made the pilgrimage to this open-air honky-tonk outpost since 1947.
SAN FRANCISCO: Original Joe’s (San Jose, CA): Original Joe’s takes the Olive Garden definition of Italian food, drives it to a secluded back alley in a black car, roughs it up real good, and then makes it promise never to spit on the authenticity of the cuisine ever again.
NORTHEAST: Keens Steakhouse (New York City, NY): No-nonsense steakhouse fare served against a Victorian backdrop with more than 125 years of New York history.
SOUTHWEST: Salt Lick BBQ (Austin TX): BBQ bonafides are subjective, with consensus scattered into fierce factions—the vinegar zealots, the dry-rubbers, the tomato-based titans; even the South Carolinian mustard mavens. Yet many of the country’s finest practitioners of the craft agree that the Texas Hill Country region houses an unparalleled collection of greats, and that the Salt Lick’s succulent sausages, brisket, and ribs are especially worth the trip.
SOUTHEAST: Gus’s World Famous Hot & Spicy Chicken (Memphis, TN): Eating piece after piece of steaming-hot, crispy fried chicken from this world-famous, no-frills joint is about as close as you can get to a religious experience without visiting Graceland.
NORTHWEST: Couloir (Jackson Hole, WY): Unpretentious, seasonal and sustainable cuisine with the most amazing views of the Grand Teton Mountain range.
MIDWEST: Jethro’s BBQ (Des Moines, IW): But rarely can you stare down as intimidating as Jethro’s four-pound sandwich” should be “But rarely can you stare down a sandwich as intimidating as Jethro’s four-pound behemoth.